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Marfa Roadside Art: ‘Prada Marfa’ and ‘Giant Marfa’

Marfa Roadside Art: ‘Prada Marfa’ and ‘Giant Marfa’

Visiting two iconic pieces of roadside art on Highway 90 between Marfa and Valentine

Considering its remote desert location, Prada Marfa is a surprisingly popular spot. In my recent travels through West Texas I passed the location several times hoping to get photos and video, but each time I found scores of people jockeying to get the perfect Instagram selfie.

One cold morning at sunrise, I finally found the art project vacant of visitors long enough to grab a few seconds of clean video, and even in the audio you can hear another car arrive on the scene while I was filming.

Video: Join me on a visit to Marfa Prada and Giant Marfa

Popular works of art are like major celebrities. They have charisma. They attract crowds and they inspire people to leave a mark of their own. Prada Marfa has been robbed and vandalized. It was once vandalized by another artist who was arrested and paid more than $10,000 in restitution for repairs to the building

The project was commissioned by Ballroom Marfa, and created by Danish-born, Berlin-based artists Elmgreen and Dragset. It was build from a bio-degradable material much like adobe, with the idea that it should be allowed to dissolve back into the earth. (I’m not sure what would have become of the merchandise, glass windows, etc.). However, after the vandalism, it was decided to maintain and provide security for the project.

The building looks like a retail store but it cannot be entered and it doesn’t sell merchandise. It is stocked with handbags and shoes from the 2005 Prada Fall collection, which were donated by the designer, who also gave permission to use the Prada logo, but otherwise played no role in the project.

Prada Marfa was built without the approval of the Texas Department of Transportation. TDOT officials only became aware of it after nearly 9 years, when they declared it an illegal commercial advertisement and claimed it didn’t meet the standards set aside for billboards. After some convincing that it was not a Prada ad, but rather an art project, TDOT reclassified the building as a museum with only one exhibit, and allowed it to remain.


Books and movies about the quirky art town of Marfa on Amazon


Prada Marfa, as seen from across the highway. This was a rare opportunity to photograph the famous structure without visitors in the shot. Photograph by Keith Dotson. Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.
Prada Marfa, as seen from across the highway. This was a rare opportunity to photograph the famous structure without visitors in the shot. Photograph by Keith Dotson. Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.
This image shows a more typical experience visiting Prada Marfa
This image shows a more typical experience visiting Prada Marfa. Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.
Looking away from Prada Marfa, one sees road signs covered in stickers and graffiti.
Looking away from Prada Marfa, one sees road signs covered in stickers and graffiti. Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading.

Be sure to visit me on FacebookInstagram or Pinterest, or on my website at keithdotson.com.

~ Keith

Sources

Wikipedia, Prada Marfa

Disclosure: This blog post contains an Amazon affiliate link. I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases.

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